Dear Healthcare System, Moms with Depression Need You

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Last week, there were two celebrity deaths related to suicide, both possibly linked to depression, one of which has personally left me quite stunned.

The world lost a colorful fashion designer by the name of Kate Spade.

She impacted young women like myself, who she gifted a sense of confidence when they sported a piece of her artwork over their shoulders. Her vibrant handbags and accessories always had a cheerful quality to them, which seemed to be a representation of this iconic woman’s personality.

This was a person who appeared to exude happiness through her products and it is a heartbreaking reminder that someone with a seemingly successful career, marriage and parenthood could be suffering enough to take her own life.

It’s a reminder of the harsh reality that depression spares nobody. There isn’t a “type” of person who is impacted. It can happen to anyone.

Depression is a common and serious illness.

A study conducted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) back in 2012 shows that 1 out of 10 women in the USA experience signs of depression. That statistic is even higher at 1 out of 9 women, when focusing only on postpartum depression. That is nearly 14 million adult women.

Just let that sink in for a moment. 14 million.

That statistic jumps to an outrageous 1 out of 5 women in certain states across our nation. It is almost hard to believe as high as 20% of new moms experience postpartum depression, depending on where they reside.

As a mom of young children and being around many women who are also in this season of life sprinkled with hormone changes, massive shifts in responsibilities, and a lifestyle overhaul, I have seen and witnessed what depression can do. During a time that is supposed to be joyful and fulfilling, this new mom is left feeling anxious, sad and guilty.

I can admit that there were times when the responsibility of a new baby and the pressure to juggle just about everything else was absolutely overwhelming.  The highs brought joy that was unmatched, but the lows were extremely depleting. It was easy to become filled with despair.

Postpartum depression isn’t talked about nearly as enough and as openly as it should.

Then there are times when brave moms confide in a medical professional for help and are left mortified and scared.

I read an article earlier this year about a woman in Sacramento, CA and her devastating routine postpartum visit with her OB-GYN. Her 4 month-old baby joined her on this appointment when she told the nurse practitioner that she was having symptoms of postpartum depression, including bouts of anger. She wanted to understand her treatment options.

What happens next is shocking.

Instead of offering her a mental health assessment or referring her to a mental wellness practitioner—basically, providing any kind of constructive help– the office called the cops on her.

Her belongings were confiscated and she was treated like a criminal.

This is someone who was asking for help. She was raising the white flag to her medical team. She was humiliated and was most likely discouraged to ever speak up again.

Although I hope that this type of circumstance is rare. It happens. And it’s a disservice and shame to a population—moms– that quite often get neglected by our healthcare system and infrastructure.

This just can’t happen anymore.

We tell moms to ask for help, but then we fail them. We tell them to talk to someone, but then we hear stories like this. We tell them it will get better, but sometimes it just takes too long.

If you know someone that is suffering from depression, please encourage them to keep talking about it and get the help they need. If they are not getting the treatment and results they desire, encourage them to try something different. Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged. Our system can only get better from here and we need you to keep raising that flag. These women make our world a kinder, more beautiful place.

We need them. And they need us.

I only wish that Kate Spade was able to get the help she needed. The world definitely lost someone special and my love and thoughts go out to her family.

 

There are resources out there. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone close to you appears to have signs of suicide.

For more information regarding the references to the CDC and the incident earlier this year, visit:

https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm

https://slate.com/technology/2018/01/when-she-asked-for-help-for-postpartum-depression-the-nurse-called-the-cops.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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